Amsterdam Canal Boat Rental with Kids

As part of our staycation in Amsterdam we wanted to take to the water and explore by boat. On our winter Amsterdam visit we took one of the generic boat tours through the canal. They had a kids tour and we pumped the kids full of snacks to keep them quiet so we could enjoy the tour. We wanted to find a better option for families.

This time we rented our own boat! We rented with Boaty, as the location was ideal for us a bit out of the city center (read: cheaper parking at 12.50 EUR for the day). We made our reservation online and opted for a solar paneled boat in hopes it would provide some coverage in the event of rain and some shade in the event of sunshine.

There is plenty of parking near the Boaty docks. We opted for a garage a few blocks away. We checked in with the guy on the dock, who showed us how to use the boat and got the Middle Little suited up in a life jacket. Then off we went.

We set sail down the canal. The boat seats six adults and of course we invited some friends to join us. We picked them up at a dock along the shore closer to their arriving tram stop. Our friends are Dutch and know their way around the canals a bit more than we do, so instead of relying on the map the boat company gave us we let them lead the way. (Boaty has some recommended routes if you’re not sure where you want to go. There’s a big, laminated map in the boat to use.)

You can see so much from the water. I would suspect on a summer weekend the canals are packed. We were sailing on an overcast Monday, so things were not so crowded. We took the boat right into the central area. We followed the larger tour boats, allowing them to overtake us as they are larger and faster. There are certainly other routes that keep you out of the way of these boats.

We docked the boat in the center, leaving behind a few of our friends while the rest of us popped into the Marqt, an upscale grocery store. We picked up lots of good fixings for a boat picnic and headed back to the boat.

We enjoyed our food while sailing through Amsterdam. The Middle Little loved playing with the ropes and helping drive the boat. The Little Little crawled around on the floor of the boat, which stayed quite dry. There were enough adults to hold him and keep him occupied.

If you rent a boat in the afternoon there are several places in Amsterdam that have food pick up right on the water level. A pizza place is located in the bridge by Boaty (yes, in the bridge). You could do an evening rental, pick up your pizza and then head out to see Amsterdam!

We returned the boat after lunch but still had some time to kill. Luckily, Amsterdam is full of little playgrounds if you know where to look. A block from the boat rental is a kinderboerderij, a playground and petting zoo for kids. Our Dutch friends told us that the government pays for petting zoos in cities to give every Dutch kid the opportunity to be around animals.

Kinderboerderij De Pijp is hidden behind some residential buildings. The place was full of kids! It has several pens of animals, which both my littles enjoyed. There is some playground equipment, sandboxes full of toys and wheelbarrows and brooms to help with the animals.

There is an indoor area with some smaller rodents that the Middle Little really enjoyed.

The Middle Little’s favorite though was this little garden path that leads to a small playground. You can run around the paths, crossing bridges and finding little benches. There are plenty of flowers here, some insects and even some frogs.

We love adding these little farms to itineraries because it gives the kids a chance to burn off some energy. They were so good in the boat, but having the freedom to run around and choose their activities is just perfect. Kinderboerderijs are always free – and some of them even have a cafe.

It was an easy walk back to the car to finish off our Amsterdam weekend. If renting your own boat doesn’t sound like a good idea, two other kid-friendly options are the Pizza Cruise and Pancake Cruise.

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Wander Mum

Elizabeth is a Type A, Attorney turned Stay-at-Home Mom, who moved her family across the Atlantic for an adventure. She can often be found out and about finding fun things for her littles to do. Elizabeth loves to read, craft and chat with friends. She will try just about anything and loves to share her experiences.

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